The African safari experience is the ultimate frontier for photo-enthusiast travellers. Luxury lodges such as Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve in South Africa, operating since 1979, recognise the desire of many of their guests to capture a photographic memento of their travels. The lodge offers its guests two-day guided photo tours and most recently, unveiled a custom-made game vehicle purpose built with photography in mind. The new Sabi Sabi vehicles feature cut-out side panels for getting up closer to the animals, swivel chairs and fixed camera sockets to support camera equipment and allow for sharp focus and picture clarity. The photo tours include a professional photographer who tailors your safari, with the optional camera and lens hire and a post-processing tutorial. These tours are available on request and must be pre-booked by guests. Rates start from ZAR17,000 (about A$1,683) per professional host photographer based on a two-day course for up to a maximum of six guests on an exclusive photographic vehicle.
For those wanting to immerse themselves in a full photographic itinerary, the following photographic safari companies and tours offer both the guidance of professional photographers and luxury accommodation.
National Geographic Expeditions
National Geographic’s Tanzanian expedition offers ample opportunity to capture the spectacular scenery, vibrant Maasai culture, and wildlife such as zebras, lions and wildebeest traversing the Serengeti on their annual migration. The 11-day photo safari travels between boutique lodges and luxurious permanent-tent camps. A National Geographic expert photographer accompanies each trip (plus both optional extensions: a four-day trip to Ruaha National Park, and a six-day adventure tracking gorillas in Rwanda).
2016 dates: 5-15 March, 13-23 August, 17-27 September.
Price: US$8,995 (about A$12,660) for the March tour; US$9,495 (about A$13,365) for August/September.
Natural Habitat Adventures
Natural Habitat Adventures conducts photographic safaris in Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana, and Namibia during migration and green seasons. They also run a gorilla photo safari following primates through Rwanda and Uganda. Guests are accommodated at permanent tented camps and luxury lodges, plus Natural Habitat’s deluxe mobile camp, which travels with the migrating wildebeest. Minimal group sizes ensure an intimate safari and maximum interaction with expedition leaders, all expert naturalists and photographers. The African photo safaris range between eight and 15 days.
Dates: Trips in Africa run in all months except for April and May.
Price: US$5,195-US$18,995 (about A$7,312-A$26,736).
Pangolin Photo Safaris
Pangolin photographic safaris in Africa use itineraries designed by photographers for photographers. They cater to every level of photographic experience and can customise tours to suit. Wildlife photography trips in Botswana, South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe are specialised according to the level of photographic expertise. Four-, five- and 10-day tours are available in 2016, all accompanied by a professional photographer/guide. On the Better Wildlife Photography Course tour, travellers get to experience Pangolin’s customised Photo Boat with a non-vibrating motor and seats that rotate 360 degrees.
Dates: Regular departures throughout 2016.
Price: US$1,895-US$3,250 (about A$2,667-$4,575).
Andy Biggs’ luxury photographic tours allow travellers to capture breathtaking wildlife encounters. African wildlife safaris include The Ultimate Great Apes Safari in Rwanda and Uganda, the Great Migration in the Maasai Mara in Kenya, and The Premier Wildlife Safari in Botswana. The trips are guided by photographic professionals and cater to all levels of expertise. The safaris use private vehicles and park guides, with one person per row of seating for optimum viewing and photo ops. Luxury accommodations range from game lodges to semi-permanent tented camps.
2016 dates: 10-19 June (Great Apes Safari), 23-31 August (Great Migration), 5-13 November (Premier Wildlife Safari).
Price: US$9,995-US$14,750 (about A$14,068-A$20,761).
Denis Glennon Iconic Images
Iconic Images, owned and established by Denis Glennon AO and based in Australia, works in partnership with C4 safaris, a specialist photographic safari company based in South Africa; with some tours also partnered by Canon Australia. Travellers on these small-group tours are led by professional, award-winning photographers and stay in luxury accommodation. Iconic Images will run two African safaris in 2016. The first is the Canon Collective Namibia photo safari, with shared access to the newest Canon high-performance equipment. The second is in the Okavango Delta in Botswana, led by Denis Glennon and Shem Compion, as well as Kane Motswana, a renowned local tracker and photographer. Groups have a maximum of 12 participants and cater to all levels of experience.
2016 dates: 22 September-8 October (Canon Collective); 2-15 November (Okavango Delta).
Price: US$12,950 (about A$18,228) for Canon Collective; US$23,750 (about A$33,428) for Okavango Delta.